EDITORIAL: Process is needed to encourage debate

We say: The last thing council should want to do is limit public consultation and debate

District of Sooke council, in particular acting mayor Kerrie Reay, is feeling the rathe of some residents over a decision to limit the right to speak at council and committee of the whole meetings.

The rule limits speakers to only discuss items that are on the agenda.

The irony is that these rules were brought in as a procedural bylaw back in 2007, long before Reay was elected to council, and have been used haphazardly by different councils ever since.

Reay was so concerned about the bylaw that she requested and received a legal opinion on it. The opinion backed her view on the limits of the right to speak on any issue before council.

“It’s council’s responsibility as a whole, not just the acting mayor, to ensure we follow the procedural bylaw,” Reay told the News Mirror last week.

True.

Council allows a public comment period of two minutes per person. Only 10 minutes is allowed for all comments. Delegations are allowed five minutes.

Yet there have been many cases where public comments and delegations have gone well over their time. In December, one public speaker spoke for 17 minutes and another for 15 minutes. It resulted in some delegations waiting more than two hours to make their presentation to council.

All of this now falls back at council to come up with a plan to initiate community debate.

The simplest solution is to change the procedural bylaw and allow more speakers and more time. Other ideas could be to host town hall meetings with council, to embrace new technologies, coffee with the mayor, even a council walkabout town.

The last thing council wants to do is cut off debate and not know what is on the minds of its electorate. Such a problem could stop the town from moving forward. And nobody wants that.

•••

We want to hear from you. Send you comments to editor@sookenewsmirror.com.

 

Just Posted

Shaving minutes off commutes among the goals for Victoria bus lanes

Work on southbound Douglas Street lane between Tolmie and Hillside getting underway

VicPD nab distracted driver with expired licence

On the phone while in motion, man had overdue fines from driving while impaired

Working for the common good

Film Awareness night examines alternate business models

Cooking with ‘Killer’

Reporter Dawn Gibson shares some of her favourite meals to make

WEB POLL: Would you support a B.C.-wide ban on single-use plastic bags?

Would you support a B.C.-wide ban on single-use plastic bags?… Continue reading

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

How high is safe from a tsunami? Four metres above sea level

Be disaster ready with food, water and clothing for seven days

Victoria Film Festival set for triumphant return to the big screen

Two decades on, diverse film lineups keep movie-goers coming to the box office

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Victoria’s most wanted for the week of Jan. 23

Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrests or the seizure of property or drug

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

Most Read